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Welcome! To the sixth installation of Aoife Mail; my monthly newsletter full of news stories (aptly enough), pop culture and my suggestions and recommendations for you. 

Wow, it's 2020. Not much else to say apart from wowoweeee. Where did the last year go? In fact, what about the last ten? For better or for worse, the 2010s are over and it's about time to seal the door on that tumultuous era, filled with high highs and low lows. 

If there's one way, to sum up the last decade, it was that the internet ruled us all. We wouldn't have any trends to cringe over or fads to laugh about had it not been for the insidious, contagious power of the internet.  

It's how Kony2012 began, the Harlem shake spread and people kept throwing ice-buckets over themselves, it's why everyone was extreme contouring (we see you Kim K), Flappy Bird became an addiction and everyone argued about the colour of the dress (It's blue and black, ok?). It had people planking and twerking, and lest we forget the end of the world scare on the 12/12/12 (thanks, Mayan's).

But it wasn't all bad, right? Online activism rose, #MeToo helped tear down Hollywood moguls, the workplace began to evolve, mental health was de-stigmatized and memes and emojis became a modern language. 

So, what on earth is in store for us next? What dark turn will the internet take, and will we make it out the other side?

In light of a new decade, does that mean our new year's resolutions have to be doubly difficult? or double the amount? or ten times the amount? 

So far my new year's resolution is going smashingly. This year I resolved to stop feeling guilty. Stop feeling guilty about not going to the gym, about being lazy, about not completing a to-do list and so on. Life is too short to feel guilty about everything but I admit - it's probably a reverse-resolution if anything. 

But I think I'm on to something. Since we live in a time of self-improvement and endless goals, how about we make a resolution to go back to the basics in some way or another? Let's make resolutions to take up habits we had as children, or go back to non-toxic comforts society has squeezed out of us, like doing absolutely nothing, or salting our food a little too much or having a long nap or lie in. I'm not saying we should revert entirely, but surely a little bit of bad can only be good. 

Whose idea was it to make new years resolutions so difficult and self-torturous, anyway?

Let's resolve to pretend that everything is fine and nothing has changed. Because, no matter what mantras we boast, we're all the same lovely folk we were a month ago, and if that's not a cause to celebrate, then I don't know what is. 

Not So Royal
I needn't remind you that Harry and Meghan have made the decision to step back from their royal duties, as no tabloid will let us forget. And as they begin their lives as "only half royals" it leaves the rest of us to grapple with the juxtaposition of privilege and duty. Does their privilege guarantee them the right to stop when they want, or is it that very privilege that means they've signed up to a lifetime commitment to the monarchy? 

Brexit or Feck-it?
As the date for the UK to leave the EU looms (friendly reminder, its next Friday the 31st) Boyish Boris seems to be out of the limelight regarding his usual eye-catching and eye-rolling promotions and statements. Does that mean work is getting done or is a storm brewing?

Pandemic Panic
Panic and Fear have erupted in the Chinese town Wuhan as it is locked down following the breakout of the pneumonia-like virus, the coronavirus. This is the seventh strain of the virus and has never been seen before in humans, similar to the SARS scare in 2002. That virus, that also began in china and spread all over Asia, to the United States and even a few cases were in Europe, led to a death toll of 775 people out of the nearly 9000 infected. This time, however, China was quick to address the problem and took swift action, unlike last time. With three cases reported in France, let's hope the spread in Europe doesn't go much further. On that note, Netflix either eerily foreseeing this disaster or with a stroke of luck, just this week released a docuseries on Pandemics

The Boeing has Maxed Out
There have been even further twists in the tale of the fatal Max Boeing 737 creation as leaked conversations show staff admitting they don't trust the aircraft, with one member asking "would you put your family on it?" followed by a swift; "No." Yikes. 

Doom and Gloom
What with the coronavirus, the apocalyptic-like climate in Australia, The Saudi prince hacking the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos, Trump's impeachment and the likelihood of a nuclear blunder, the doomsday clock has now lurched forward to 100 seconds to midnight, the closest we've been to annihilation, ever. No sweat. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists said that the change was made due to "nuclear proliferation, failure to tackle climate change and 'cyber-based disinformation

What does this mean? As the dangerous rivalry upon the superpowers heats up and the ignorance toward climate change persists, nimble action is vital.  Alone we can't fix this, and our history has shown that we can come together in dismal times and it's about high time we did. It really is time to wake up.

This Month I'm... 
...Watching: Hopefully Nothing
No, that's not the title of some new whipsmart mini-series, but my real feelings on television at the moment. Of course, over the last month, I've watched a hell of a lot of telly. As most of you may know, I'm rather addicted. If you're waiting for the recommendations, check out Broadchurch or Sex Education season 2. But, I'm hoping to begin my lengthy break-up with tv, today. It's not over forever, but I need to become more independent, and tv understands, and I hope you do, too. 
...Listening to: Bon Appetite
This podcast, or should I saw foodcast (that is honestly what they call it) is spectacularly cheerful, intuitive and interesting if you like hearing people talk about a whole lot of food. Holidays, seasons, occasions, cuisines, continents, they discuss everything from party tricks to salting mushrooms, the perfect pizza to layering a salad like nachos. If listening to food makes you too hungry,  then check out some of my other top picks this month, here
...Eating: The Dip
Many of you reading this will know, this dip is an irresistible party pleaser. Perfect to eat with crisps, raw veg or a spoon. Whatever your preference. Chop an onion, shallot and some garlic finely-ish (I never have the patience) and fry in a very generous amount of olive oil. Add seasoning, a teaspoon of honey, a sprinkle of chili flakes and fry on medium heat for 10-15 minutes until soft. Meanwhile, chop chives and add to a bowl of 200ml sour cream, 3 tbsp creme fraiche,  juice of half a lemon and seasoning. Add onion mixture when complete and stir well. 
...Reading: Outline by Rachel Cusk
The first of a trilogy, this book at times seems pointless and yet I'm hurtling through it. It offers short story-style tales, surrounding a writer on a trip to Greece, interviewing people for work. Yet, it almost feels as though we are spying on her as she auditions characters for a future novel. They seem vague and unreal, yet continuously offer observations so poignant and nuanced about life that it feels unfair to question their existence. As the narrator dives into the lives of these people, you feel an innate need to confess to her, just as the characters do. Immensely intelligent and perfectly simple, I've never read anything like it and I implore you to give it a go. 

Writing About: 
I've been thinking a lot recently about this piece I wrote last year on my TV addiction
I also wrote about Music & Creativity this month, check it here
The account Insta Wrecked explores the impact Instagram has had on over-tourism and as a result, our planet. Thanks to Instagram, a lot of destinations have had an over-night influx of tourists wanting to get "that Instagram photo".

Eye-opening and depressing, following this account has really made me question my own traveling habits and expectations. 

The Rest 
This dismal piece summed up the perpetual anxiety of the 2010s. If you don't have time to read, then listen to the audio form on the Guardian's Longform Podcast, here.

This episode of Netflix's Explained Documentary on the Next Pandemic was perhaps not the best thing for me to have watched before a coronavirus breakout in China but it did leave me informed for when it happened. 

The Daily's podcast episode on Harvey Weinstein's case helped fill in some of the gaps I was unaware of. 

This article on Why We Procrastinate made me feel seen, but also a little better about my natural procrastinating tendencies. 

This eye-opening article on modern slavery really made me think twice about my nail salon. 

I was delighted by this NYT piece about a restaurant that is effectively zero waste. If one can do it, perhaps they all can.

I came across this video series on the Guardian about Death Anxiety and found it comforting, intriguing and of course, anxiety-fuelling.  
Well, that's all for now. Thanks for reading as always, and sorry I missed December (a bit of a food-coma blur, we'll say). 

If you enjoy, let me know - or hey, let your friends know! The more the merrier. 


Aoife x
One Broke Gal 
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